Groundbreaking Political Advertising Disclosure Bill Moves to Assembly Floor
Assembly Speaker John Perez joins 30 other Assemblymembers in
SACRAMENTO -The California Assembly Appropriations Committee Thursday voted AB 1148, the California DISCLOSE Act, to the Assembly floor for a full vote by the end of the month. Coming two days before the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision that unleashed unlimited anonymous spending on campaigns across the country, the vote moves forward a bill that would shine a spotlight on political spending so voters know who is behind the ads they're seeing.
Authored by Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, AB 1148 will require political television, radio, and print ads to clearly identify their three largest funders with their names and logos so voters know who is actually paying for them. These requirements will apply to both ads for or against ballot measures and independent expenditure ads for or against candidates.
"Californians need to know who is paying for political ads when millions of dollars by special interests and wealthy donors are influencing the direction of our state," Assemblymember Brownley said. "AB 1148 will shed light on these ads for voters so they have greater information when they vote in elections."
According to FollowtheMoney.org, over $235 million was spent on California ballot measures in 2010 alone, most by special interests hiding behind committees with misleading names. A recent study by the New York City Public Advocate showed that anonymous spending groups are significantly more likely to fund negative advertisements.
AB 1148 is endorsed by over 250 statewide and local organizations and leaders, including the League of Women Voters of California, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Common Cause, California Church IMPACT, CALPIRG, the Greenlining Institute, the Green Chamber of Commerce, the Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club California, and Bob Stern, co-author of the Political Reform Act of 1974.
As an amendment to the Political Reform Act of 1974, AB 1148 will require a 2/3 vote in both the Assembly and State Senate to go into effect, or passage by the voters if the legislature puts it on the ballot by a majority vote. Though it can be difficult to achieve a 2/3 vote in the legislature, support for increased disclosure is one of the rare issues in which there is nearly universal public support across the board: 86% of Democrats, 78% of Republicans, and 88% of Independents favored increasing public disclosure requirements of initiatives in the October 13, 2011 California Field Poll.
"We are excited that a leader like Assembly Speaker P?rez has joined on as a co-author of AB 1148 in the fight for real transparency and disclosure in political advertising," said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, the sponsor of AB 1148. "Though no Republicans in the Assembly have yet gone on record in favor of AB 1148, we are hopeful that they will join legislative Democrats to pass this bill providing the kind of real disclosure that has overwhelming bipartisan support with the public."
Assembly Appropriations Chair Felipe Fuentes (D-Los Sylmar) and Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), Charles Calderon (D-Whittier), Nora Campos (D- San Jos?), Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata), Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), Isadore Hall (D-Compton), Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), and Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) all voted Yes on AB 1148. Assemblymembers Ammiano, Blumenfield, Bradford, Hill, and Mitchell are among its 31 Assembly co-authors.
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